The South of Cambodia was clearly one of our main highlights during our trip through this beautiful country. Especially Kampot, we will forever hold as an extremely positive memory. Although the actual plan was to just stay there for one night, in the end, we spent around four days around. We just loved it.
In order for you to fall in love with this cute little town in the South of Cambodia the same way that we did, we collected the best things to do in Kampot in this article. Read about what to do in Kampot and its surroundings sprinkled with a bunch of great Kampot travel tips.
What to find out in this post
Kampot, Cambodia Facts
- Capital of the province of the same name
- Located at the Teuk Chhou River
- Ca. 30 km away from the Vietnamese border
- A popular sight is the Elephant mountains within the Bokor Nationalpark
Why visit Kampot?
Besides the Durian statue in the Center of the city, I actually have to admit that there is not really a main tourist attraction as it exists for example in Angkor. But the atmosphere and the beautiful surroundings are what make Kampot so special.
For us, it was definitely one of the most beautiful cities in Asia. Especially after your stay in busy Phnom Penh, you will appreciate the tranquility and peacefulness of Kampot. Even though it is known to be a big city it feels more like a cozy little village and we loved that feeling.
Even Kampot at night fits into the picture. We loved our nightly walks along the riverside (Don’t forget your mosquito repellent!) as well as our hostel.
Best time to visit Kampot
The best travel time for Kampot – as for Cambodia in general – is the months of November to early March. At this time, there is the dry-season throughout the country. This means that there is significantly less rainfall. The temperatures at this time of year are also pleasant and somewhat cooler than in the rest of the year.
How to get to Kampot
From Phnom Penh to Kampot
Journey Duration: ca. 3 ½ Hours
Journey Cost: ca. $ 6 – 11
Tickets: On-site or online here
The easiest way to get to Kampot from the capital Phnom Penh is by bus or mini-van. That operate between Phnom Penh and Kampot several times a day. The train route between the two cities can also be used daily.
The roads on the route are of surprisingly good quality for Cambodia standards, so the ride is less rocky than other routes in the country.
From Siem Reap to Kampot
Unfortunately, there is still no direct route to Kampot from the most popular travel destination in the country, Siem Reap. Your only option is to travel from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh and from there, take the bus or train to Kampot.
Best things to do in Kampot
As I’ve already mentioned before, one of the best things about Kampot is actually its surroundings. There is quite a bunch of stunning nature to explore. Even though there might not be a whole bunch of sightseeing spots inside the city – it’s rather its relaxed vibes that make Kampot so unique.
Preaek Tuek Chhou
The Preaek Tuek Chhou is the river that flows through Kampot. It is worth taking a walk along the river bank and getting to know some of the city’s bars and restaurants.
For example, enjoy a cold beer while watching the sunset over the river. Or simply stroll along the river and enjoy the view.
(Firefly) Sunset River Cruise
Tour Price: 5 USD
Tour Duration: ca. 2 hours
Tour Schedule: Daily at 5.30 pm
You can choose between many companies but, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter as it’s basically the same tour. Included in the price you also get served a cold beer during your little journey. And again, do not forget your mosquito repellent.
During sunset, you even have the chance to swim in the refreshing river water. But if you have seen all the garbage floating around during low tight, you might rather happily miss that opportunity.
The journey already begins adventurous as you have to make yourself as flat as possible, ideally by laying down, when the boat is passing through under the bridges. After dawn, all the bridges will lighten up to prevent accidents, don’t worry.
The whole experience is really unique. The nature along the riverside is gorgeous and you can see many fisher boats making their way home after a long day.
If you get lucky you can see an amazing sunset from the river. If you are traveling during the rainy season, the chances are not really high, though.
About the fireflies though… To start with the positive part, yes there are fireflies. But to tell you the truth the “firefly watching” is basically stopping at one tree filled with some fireflies along with other boats. So I guess the firefly thing is more of a marketing tool than actually something that is happening. But anyway, we can highly recommend the river cruise tour of Kampot.
If you take a walk along the Preaek Tuek Chhou River, you can hardly overlook the Etanou Bridge. This is a bridge from the French colonial period that connects Kampot with other places across the river.
Walk across the bridge (watch out for traffic!) or have a look at it from the riverbank.
The Etanou Bridge is particularly beautiful at night when it’s illuminated by colorful lights.
French colonial architecture
Although Kampot has been increasingly influenced by Chinese culture in recent years, the French colonial era is still clearly recognizable in the city. Everywhere you can find houses whose architecture shows French influences.
Walk a little through the streets of Kampot and immerse yourself in the architecture of the colonial era, which is still so clearly visible here.
The Durian statue
Whether you like the exotic fruit that is so popular in Cambodia or not. A visit to the Durian statue in the middle of the roundabout is a real must for every visitor.
Old Market Street
Anyone visiting the city’s famous Durian statue is right at the beginning of Old Market Street. This is arguably the most popular street in the city. Full of Chinese shops located in old French colonial buildings, this street exudes its very own charm.
The best Day Trips from Kampot
The Bokor Nationalpark is located around 20 km away from Kampot. Without any doubt, the way there is totally worth it, though. You can find the details about this mesmerizing park and its Elephant mountains here.
The Pepper Plantations of Kampot – La Plantation
In addition to the durian fruit, Kampot is nationally famous for its pepper. These pepper plantations in the regions can and should definitely be visited.
The easiest way to get from A to B is to rent a scooter. The roads of Kampot are of relatively good quality when you look at the rest of the country. The way there takes a anywhere from one to a few hours (depending on the weather, driving style and plantation that you visit).
You also have the option to join a tour. Most of the tours are combined with a visit to one or more other attractions in the area. The best thing to do is to inquire at the travel agencies and tuk-tuk drivers on-site about the possibilities – very important: compare prices.
The most popular pepper plantation in the region is La Plantation. There are free tours that explain everything about pepper cultivation, the employees and the pepper itself. Of course, you will also have the opportunity to try the famous pepper yourself.
As soon as the tour is over, you can stock up on a few packs of the pepper. Incidentally, this is also a great gift for loved ones at home.
The Kampot salt fields
The Kampot pepper plantations are famous all over the world and the pepper from there is popular. But did you know that salt is also mined near Kampot? Since the tour to the salt fields doesn’t really take much time, it can be perfectly combined with a trip to the pepper plantations. And it’s kind of practical to return home with both salt and pepper, isn’t it?
In addition to the salt fields themselves, you can take a look at the devices with which the salt is mined here in the region until today. You can also watch a film for a small entrance fee, which explains the mining of the salt here in more detail.
Phnom Chhngok cave temple
Another Kampot attraction that you shouldn’t miss in the region is the Phnom Chhngok cave temple. This temple is definitely unique and very different from all the other temples that you can discover during your Cambodia itinerary.
Already on the way up you can admire the beautiful nature that surrounds this region. Inside the cave, however, it becomes rather adventurous. In some places, you have to squeeze through the narrow aisles.
Inside the cave, you can then discover a 7th-century shrine dedicated to the goddess Shiva.
To find your way around the cave, you can either hire a professional guide or join some of the local children (don’t forget to tip them afterwards!)
Kep and its Crab Market
If you google for Kampot, a frequently mentioned result is Kep. This is a small fishing village, only about 30 km from Kampot. At first, Kep was the destination of our trip from Phnom Penh. Then we decided at short notice only for a shortstop and to continue our trip the same day to Kampot.
However, our bus made the detour through Kep, so that we could take a short tour through the small town by the sea. Kep is particularly famous for its crab market. Kep is, therefore, an absolute must-see for all fans of seafood and crabs. Visit one of the many restaurants and enjoy the freshly caught seafood.
The beach was, unfortunately, not a real highlight. Especially, when you compare it with the other beaches that we were later able to discover in southern Cambodia. The beach at Kep was full of garbage in many corners and the water also looked rather dirty. This may have been due to the heavy rain of the past few days, but the beach at Kep simply couldn’t convince us.
Your first time in Cambodia?
Make sure to read our comprehensive Cambodia Travel tips before you go.
If you want to know more about budgets and saving money while traveling in Cambodia, you will love our Cambodia Travel Cost Guide.
Where to stay in Kampot
To be honest, we are both not really into these typical Party Hostels that you can find everywhere around Southeast Asia. Anyway, we usually like to use the opportunity to get in touch with fellow travelers. That’s why we prefer when our accommodation offers a Common room, bar or something along those lines.
This is one of the reasons why we chose the Monkey Republic Hostel in Kampot. (Check prices and availability here) And we didn’t get disappointed.
It offered the perfect mixture. You could have a beer at the bar getting in touch with others and also get some yummy food there. On the other hand, you didn’t get disturbed by loud music when you wanted to go to sleep early. During our stay, we both had a pretty strong cold and didn’t feel quite well at times. Anyway, we felt like this was the right place to be. So we felt comfortable nevertheless.
Another big point for us was a totally reasonable price. Moreover, the staff is lovely and they will help you plan your day trips. You can also refill your water bottle for a small price, which not only makes your piggy bank happy but also is good for the environment.
Getting in touch
On our way to Kampot, we met this super lovely couple. During our stay, we spent two evenings with them and had a great time. They have been kinda doing the same kind of itinerary as us, just the other way around. So we could share a lot of recommendations.
However, this couple has a super cute story that I just find too cute to keep it to myself. 🙂
They’ve met for the first time already 30 years ago while he was living in India and she was traveling around there. As life sometimes goes, even though they fell in love, circumstances didn’t allow them to continue their relationship after she had to head back to France. Years went by, but still they never really forgot about each other until she found a voice message of him around seven years ago. Now they are finally back together, married, based in France and traveling the world together. Isn’t that just super romantic?
Anyway, for us also it is super inspiring seeing people in their late 50s backpacking the world, hitchhiking, and being away from home for several months. So don’t let something stop you from living your dream, especially not your age.
As you might have realized from this post we just loved Kampot and enjoyed our time there completely. (Well, obviously not the part about being sick, but you know what I mean) We actually even have been a little sad when entering the Van to Sihanoukville.